New year, same me.

The obvious place to begin this post is with an acknowledgement that it has been a long time since I last wrote. So, yes, it has been a long time since I last wrote.

Shortly after my most “recent” post, which was several months ago, I — for reasons that are complicated and possibly, in hindsight, even humorous enough for their own post — ceased having any sort of child care. And for a single mama with a 60 minute commute each way for work, that made things very challenging.

In the time since I last posted, much has happened: No child care. I was more-or-less involuntarily put on a period of unpaid leave. My grandfather passed away. My brother went into inpatient rehab for a meth addiction. My daughter finally verbalized how much she misses her dad. The holiday season happened. I got in a nasty fight with my mother on Christmas day, recovered for a lovely Boxing Day celebration, rang in New Year’s Eve completely alone, and had therapy on New Year’s Day.

I interviewed for a job with a commute of less than 10 minutes each way, but was not offered a position. I cried when I learned the news. I applied for several more jobs. I have a first round interview with one of those jobs at the end of the month. I stopped writing. I went into debt for the first time in my life.

I’ve come back to work, but only part time. I’m reconfiguring my job responsibilities so that they are more closely aligned with my skill set, and — hopefully — involve less of the work that I find 100% stressful and 0% satisfying. (As it turns out, that’s a whole lot of the work of actually being an attorney…) I’ve signed up for an online fitness accountability group that’s taught by one of the women that I used to teach barre classes with. [FN1: Oh, how humbling it is to go from teaching these sorts of classes to struggling through the most basic variations. But I’m DOING it, and that’s a good thing.] We have another dog in our family. [FN2: The story is probably worth documenting in some detail in another post…but the short version is that on our first visit back to the shelter to check out the dogs, we found one that met EVERY one of the criteria I’d set — and its name was our last name. So, now he’s the fluffball that helps keep my daughter company at nighttime.]

My kiddos are hanging in there, usually better than I am — although they have perfected a full range of techniques to tug on my heartstrings, and I spend nearly all of my time that I’m with my kids doing hard emotional work. I keep asking the therapists (mine and theirs) when we’re going to get to a point when we can just do regular life; they all seem to think that this is, at least for now, “regular.” It’s hard, and I’m almost always tired.

So it’s a new year, but the story is still the same. Parenting is hard. Single parenting is hard. Being a working mom is hard. But it’s good.

I had the chance to attend one holiday party this season, and there, I had the chance to connect with a variety of people — some of whom were totally unaware that I’d gotten divorced, some of whom were answering late night phone calls helping me to prepare for my interview with Child Protective Services, and many in between. In the combination of conversations that I had getting genuinely thoughtful and interested folks up-to-speed on the crazy-train that is my life, I realized that things really are So. Much. Better. than they were when all of this started.

I mean, I still wrestle with all sorts of incomprehensible feelings about how to think about my ex and how he is living his life — which I generally accomplish only by oscillating wildly between not thinking about him at all (which, I can say with confidence, is how I spend at least 90% of my time) and then compulsively, obsessively, unhealthily being enraged about what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. [FN3: My therapist and I cycle back through lessons on Radical Acceptance about once every three months. I have a feeling that next week is going to be one of those repeat lessons…] Parenting definitely feels like All Joy and No Fun. It’s still lonely, and it’s hard to make and keep good connections.

But it’s BETTER. Slowly, imperfectly, chaotically…but better. So yes, it’s a new year — and yes, I sort of “made a resolution” to start writing again. But I’m not expecting or aiming for any new and radical changes. I’m still me. My (first) dog still eats my shoes when I forget to put them immediately into the cabinet. And I’m still moving #onward, one timid and faithful step at a time.

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